The pie-1 and mex-1 genes and maternal control of blastomere identity in early C. elegans embryos

Cell. 1992 Jul 10;70(1):163-76. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(92)90542-k.


During C. elegans embryogenesis an 8-cell stage blastomere, called MS, undergoes a reproducible cleavage pattern, producing pharyngeal cells, body wall muscles, and cell deaths. We show here that maternal-effect mutations in the pie-1 and mex-1 genes cause additional 8-cell stage blastomeres to adopt a fate very similar to that of the wild-type MS blastomere. In pie-1 mutants one additional posterior blastomere adopts an MS-like fate, and in mex-1 mutants four additional anterior blastomeres adopt an MS-like fate. We propose that maternally provided pie-1(+) and mex-1(+) gene products may function in the early embryo to localize or regulate factors that determine the fate of the MS blastomere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blastomeres / cytology
  • Caenorhabditis / embryology*
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Muscles / embryology
  • Mutation
  • Ovum / growth & development
  • Pharynx / embryology